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Wear the Gown: How to treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Now is the time to start thinking about heat illnesses before summer arrives. It can sneak up on you, and can be deadly.

SAN ANTONIO — When people are exposed to extreme heat like during a south Texas summer, they can suffer from potentially deadly illnesses. 

Now that we are beginning to enter the hottest months of the year, now the is the time start getting your body acclimated to the heat, because it doesn't happen instantly, and heat illnesses can sneak up on you very quickly. 

"Heat exhaustion is kind of the 'I don't feel well' stage of being outside in the heat. So you get out there, you don't feel good. You start to feel maybe a little sweaty," said Dr. Romeo Fairley, who is an emergency medicine physician with University Health. 

He says heat exhaustion is truly a medical emergency. 

"If you have heat exhaustion, you really starting to thinking about getting some treatment as quick as possible, get inside, cooled off, start drinking water as quickly as possible," Dr. Fairley told us. 

Some of the signs of heat exhaustion include a headache, nausea and dizziness, weakness, extreme thirst, and heavy sweating. 

"Heat stroke is really if that continues and goes untreated, that's when you start to get confusion. You may pass out, you may have a seizure. This is really the 911 stage. And so you really want to get treatment at that time. Call 911, get you to a hospital as quickly as possible," Dr. Fairley added.  

So what do you do if you think someone is suffering from a heat illness? 

"If they're able to drink fluids, give them some cold fluids, start working on cooling them off. If they have a bunch of layers of clothes on, help them get some of those clothes off down to just a bare t-shirt, whatever they can do," Dr. Fairley said.  

Dr. Fairley also says you can douse them in cold water or get them into the shade, but if they show any signs of confusion, calling 911 is a must. 

If you would like to see more of our Wear The Gown stories just head to WearTheGown.com.

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